Eaton’s woodland wonder workers

It began with a hugely-successful community effort to reclaim a neglected ancient hedge.

Six years later, it’s led to the formation of a Friends group which is nurturing a much-loved woodland.

And the hard work of the Friends of Danby Wood was recognised when the group was awarded a silver gilt certificate and hand-turned wooden trophy for Best Woodland in the Anglia in Bloom competition, announced this autumn.

Although the Friends group was only formed last year, its 30-odd volunteers have already carried out a lot of clearance work and litter-picking in the wood, as well as planting hundreds of native trees, thousands of bluebells, putting up bat boxes and improving access with two sets of steps.

And on Saturday November 25, at 10am, everyone is invited to meet in the Marston Lane car park and join other volunteers planting 450 more young trees in the 4.5ha wood.

The Friends are guided by Matt Davies, project officer with Norwich Fringe, which manages the wood on behalf of its owner, Norwich City Council.

Kathleen Rowlands, a committee member of Eaton Rise Residents’ Association (ERRA) and co-ordinator of the Friends of Danby Wood, said the project had brought the community together. Volunteers aged from 10 to people in their 80s, worked side by side, with jobs allocated according to abilities. Clearance work usually ended with a big bonfire and a tea break with homemade flapjacks.

ERRA and Kathleen were the driving forces behind the earlier Ipswich Road Ancient Hedge project which saw volunteers improve the soil, and plant fruit-bearing trees along part of the line of the hedge, which had been damaged in a 2003 storm.

The project caught the imagination of local people and thousands of pounds were donated to a Hedge Fund. Supporters also managed to get grants, donations of trees and other help from businesses, the city council and charities.

Kathleen said the soil was now vastly improved and the trees bore berries which attracted birds, butterflies and other insects.

She added: “As with the hedge we aim to improve the biodiversity of the wood and create a peaceful environment for wildlife and visitor alike. “